Communication & Conflict Management

Let your differences make you stronger

The Challenge

Conflict is both an unavoidable by-product of the human experience and an integral part of family enterprise ownership. Conflict itself is neither good nor bad — growth and development typically require some degree of dynamic tension. However, there are better and worse ways of managing this conflict. Business families that thrive learn to manage conflict constructively and treat this as an essential skill that improves their odds of continuity, though these skills don’t always come naturally.

Conflicts also need to be distinguished from mere disagreements or disputes, which can usually be resolved through negotiation. In contrast, conflicts contain an emotional component that implies value judgments or core principles that are non-negotiable. They are often rooted in deeper historical resentments — particularly where some family members harbor long lists of how they were wronged or what they are owed and what should be done to make amends. These are what we call ‘historical impasses’, and they are quite common in families, are easily inherited, and therefore survive for generations, potentially causing deep emotional and economic distress.

Our Solution

At LGA, we help enterprising families develop effective conflict management processes and structures to address these persistent issues. When needed, we also facilitate individual and group conversations that help contextualize the issues, building empathy with each other’s point of view and developing solutions that are durable and constructive.

How does it work?

Together with your family, we first explore the roots of the underlying conflict: how it developed and why it has become an impediment to effective governance and healthy family dynamics.

This approach covers both the objective elements of the conflict as well as the internal emotional drivers of the family members involved. Bringing these issues to the surface thoughtfully and constructively is the first critical step in conflict resolution.

Once we establish this common understanding, we then explore a range of initiatives that can enhance the functioning of your family system, including defining common objectives, clarifying roles and structures, and improving interpersonal communication.

We also facilitate individual or group conversations as needed to help resolve existing conflicts by offering external, unbiased perspectives and experienced facilitation.

How does your family benefit?

Our approach provides your family with a reference framework that helps all members to better understand how conflicts can occur, and most importantly, how to avoid their escalation before they become destructive of the family system.

communication management

Case Studies

family office case study

Case Study: Launching a Family Office

The second-generation CEO of a large family enterprise was approached by a strategic investor who made a generous and unsolicited offer for their legacy operating business. The CEO had previously never explored a sale — both because of her strong emotional connection to the company and its employees — two of whom were her kids — and because of its attractive cash flow and growth profile.

on campus learning

Case Study: Sustaining Engagement in a Cousins Consortium

Three third-generation Family Directors of a large enterprising family were attending a global conference focused on innovation and growth. Their 90-year old family had deep pride and gratitude for the success and leadership of previous generations. However, there were no family members currently working actively in the business, and the family’s only connection to their vast operations — which spanned eight industries and three continents — was limited to these three members of the Board.

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